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Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

For today, I give you this highly-personalized, certainly particular list of #ThingsIKnowForSure:

  • Creativity is what’s important, not how or why or when you do it.
  • I eat less when I can taste more.
  • My garden deserves better.
  • Summer is a montage of awkwardly-placed mosquito bites. Still worth it.
  • The world needs a better brand of catnip.
  • Sometimes figuring things out is a matter of a good book and a long afternoon. If that doesn’t work, try a walk. Or a stiff drink.
  • That thing you don’t want to do is probably exactly what you should do (sorry!)
  • Sometimes a day just needs a thunderstorm.
  • Tonic and lemonade are good together. Also gin.
  • Some days there are just too many choices.
  • Touch ID hates me.
  • Sometimes you actually do need that ancient laptop you stashed in the closet.
  • A good book makes any day better.
  • I’m pretty much done letting other people define what’s “good” 🙂
  • Star Wars is the best movie ever (#1, now renamed #4 like a child whose parents changed their mind when she was ten years old. Who does that?)
  • Lord of the Rings is the best book ever. Even though I don’t read it every year (anymore), the effect it had on my life means that it will remain The Best Book Ever for always and ever and ever.
  • Kittens are hard to catch.

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Can’t go wrong with a kitten, right?
Photo by Henda Watani on Pexels.com

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Today, do something amazing.

And the more I learn about creativity, productivity, and motivation, the more I realize that the most important word in that sentence is “today.”

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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

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This is a pretty particular post, but it’s something that would have helped me, so here you go.

There are a lot of books and other resources out there for writers. A while back I mentioned a few of the ones I’ve found helpful, including this one:

Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain

At one point I read an Ilona Andrews* post mentioning they used the book when starting out, and decided to check it out. There’s a lot of useful material here. My edition looks like this:

Swain’s approach is very detailed, and while not the last word, obviously, he does have a Lot to say about the nitty gritty craft of writing. What, how, and why, all those questions everyone ahead of you seems to know but often don’t explain. And have I mentioned that this book is Very Detailed with Teeny Tiny Type? Even if you have the book, getting a handle on the discussion’s arc and the location of useful details was something I found time-consuming. So I wrote up an outline, including descriptions and page references for all the bits I wish the table of contents had included. Click the image below to view the full PDF.

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Will this outline help you? If you have the book and are interested, yes. If you don’t have the book but wonder if you might be interested, this file will at least give you a sense of what’s included.

If you want to know more about techniques like Motivation-Reaction Units, I also suggest this summary post by K.M. Weiland:

Motivation-Reaction Units: Cracking the Code of Good Writing

And since we’re here, I’ll also mention Jim Butcher’s LiveJournal series on writing. He discusses outlines, characters, scenes and sequels that look a lot like Swain’s approach, and more:

‎jimbutcher.livejournal.com

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Even if you don’t need this now, tuck it away in your stash of tools for writing. You never know when it might come in handy!

Photo by u015eahin Sezer Dinu00e7er on Pexels.com

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* Love their work. Check it out if you’re into fantasy starring interesting magic, well-developed characters, smart, capable, kick-ass ladies, and more!

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May you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.

— Ray Bradbury
Photo by cosmindoro on Pexels.com

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I’ve got a bit of a magpie mind. This is a magpie:

Magpies are known for collecting things.* Little things, shiny things, things that don’t belong to them, things that don’t always seem terribly useful (although it turns out they are only birds that recognize themselves in a mirror). But maybe they’re just curious and like the way these items stimulate their brains?

That’s how it works for me. I collect the things that I like, and my shelves are full of maps, pressed pennies, metal animal figurines, little mechanical toys, outdated cameras, paper, stamps, books of course, secret decoder rings, Star Wars stuff, wood stuff, stuff to make other stuff. Lots of things in that last category, actually. Here’s a sample.

I subscribe to the McGyver school of creation, so pretty much anything has the potential to be, well, anything.** 

And from it all I get… ideas! That’s the kind of approach that works for me, but there are a lot of ways to be creative. No matter how you do it, the best advice is to do it. 

A lot of it. That’s the lesson I need.

“quality is a probabilistic function of quantity… the prolific strategy is the most consistent method to cultivate your imagination and creativity. Try it out, keep the portions that work for you, and throw out what doesn’t. After all, there’s no right way to approach creativity —there is simply your way…. Discipline will get your routine started, but happiness and excitement keep it going.”

— Herbert Lui, Creativity strategies for more breakthrough ideas

Do that. Make that. Be that. And go magpies!

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* It turns out this reputation is undeserved, but I’m going with it because the idea is widely-held and because it fits today’s theme, dang it! Magpies are also a controversial species. They are loud, territorial, predatory and not above a bit of casual thievery (I claim none of these traits for myself), but while some people hate them, they can also be both useful and delightful

** Except duct tape. That’s stuff’s irreplaceable.

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I used to be a terrible procrastinator. Now I’d say I’m about average. Work deadlines? No problem. The birthday card I need to send out? Yeah, that’s definitely going to be late (sorry!). And don’t get me started on my writing for the past year. It was much easier to put it off to doomscroll pandemic and political news. Not better, by any means, but easier.

I had to put that to a stop. But what to do instead? How to stop putting things off and get more done?

The good news is that useful research has been done on how to get past procrastination. Here’s an article with a handy rundown:
‘Why Do I Spend Weeks Avoiding Tasks That Will Take Me 10 Minutes to Do?’

This is an excellent question.

There’s something about the task itself—and the way you feel about it—tripping you up.

As I’ve mentioned, I like the “procrastinate productively” strategy. It can still be hard to get everything done, especially when “everything” includes projects with no external accountability (like writing, if you aren’t a pro). But I find there’s always something little I can do, at the very least. Also? Be kind.

Don’t expect you’re going to get rid of the tendency to procrastinate in the 10 minutes it took to read these tips, and try not to be so hard on yourself. 

For writers who find themselves stuck, I like this book:

On Writer’s Block by Victoria Nelson

“As a rule, young children don’t complain of wanting to fingerpaint but finding themselves mysteriously unable to do so.” 

She’s got a point. So have fun and get things done:)

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Everyone likes a catchy tune. You do, I do, and drunken sailors do too. I don’t TikTok but apparently I do sea shanty.

I ran across an article on how sea shanties are trending right now (I found it while looking for perkier Viking songs than those in Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, personally, but this trend is wide and deep). 

The tunes are earworms extraordinaire but what really caught my attention was the life of the songs. Sea shanties are old, but (thank you, internet!) it took hardly any time at all for people to morph the original into something new and collaborative. Where it started:

Where we are (no doubt this is still in progress!):

Cool, right?* And good luck getting that out of your head;)

For more on the history of this song and others like it, check out this piece from The Guardian, The true story behind the viral TikTok sea shanty hit, including this insightful bit on why a centuries-old singing tradition is striking a chord now:

“My guess is that the Covid lockdowns have put millions of young [people] into a similar situation that young whalers were in 200 years ago: confined for the foreseeable future, often far from home, running out of necessities, always in risk of sudden death, and spending long hours with no communal activities to cheer them up.”

Should you wish to dive deeper (ha!), here’s a collection of other sea shanties:

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* And how about a shoutout to the unacknowledged hero of this song, the whale! 😉

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Funny because it’s true! 🙂

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Today I’m going to share a secret: I’m not writing. 

It’s not much of a secret, really, but I’ve been avoiding it all the same. Not writing means no NaNoWriMo, no new short stories, no new crazy ideas for novels, at least none that have made it onto the page. The day job is still busy and I’m active on other fronts, but when it comes to writing I’m just… taking a break. 

That should be ok, refilling the well, letting the fields lie fallow and all that, but I’ll be honest, it doesn’t always feel that way. That’s a big part of why I haven’t posted here. But here’s the thing. You can’t be super productive all the time, or I can’t, anyway. Sometimes I need time to step back, take a breath, and get ready for the next round. 

Part of that is admitting when I need a break to refresh. The other part is remembering that despite all the not-so-awesome in the world, there is also magic:)

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The folks over at Boing Boing have listed last night’s 2019 Hugo award winners, complete with links:

Best Novel: The Calculating Stars, by Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)
Best Novella: Artificial Condition, by Martha Wells (Tor.com publishing)
Best Novelette: “If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again,” by Zen Cho (B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog, 29 November 2018)
Best Short Story: “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies,” by Alix E. Harrow (Apex Magazine, February 2018)
Best Series: Wayfarers, by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton / Harper Voyager)
Best Related Work: Archive of Our Own, a project of the Organization for Transformative Works
Best Graphic Story: Monstress, Volume 3: Haven, written by Marjorie Liu, art by Sana Takeda (Image Comics)
Best Professional Editor (Short Form): Gardner Dozois
Best Professional Editor, Long Form: Navah Wolfe
Best Professional Artist: Charles Vess
Best Semiprozine: Uncanny Magazine
Best Fanzine: Lady Business
Best Fancast: Our Opinions Are Correct
Best Fan Writer: Foz Meadows
Best Fan Artist: Likhain (Mia Sereno)
Best Art Book: The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition, illustrated by Charles Vess, written by Ursula K. Le Guin (Saga Press / Gollancz)
Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book: Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi (Henry Holt / Macmillan Children’s Books)
John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer: Jeannette Ng
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, screenplay by Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman, directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman (Sony)
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: The Good Place: “Janet(s),” written by Josh Siegal & Dylan Morgan, directed by Morgan Sackett (NBC)

So excited to see my favorite Murderbot and the Wayfarers series get some love, and I’m looking forward to checking out some of the others on the roster. For more reading material, check out Tor.com’s full list of nominees. Enjoy!

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